1959 Tojeiro California Sypder – TCAL59
In 1959, the racing car designer and builder John Tojeiro, who was also well known for his work on the AC Ace, which later became the Cobra, began creating of one of his last front engine sports cars.
John built a chassis to replace the crashed Ecurie Ecosse racer from an accident at Nurburgring, and a second chassis, chassis number TCAL 59, which you see here. The new Tojeiro incorporated a tube frame structure similar to the early Ecurie Ecosse Tojeiro Jaguar that ran at Le Mans, but with coil springs and concentric tubular shock absorbers fabricated with the upper and lower A-arms in the front. Tojeiro’s design also had a De Dion rear axle located by parallel trailing arms with coil overs.
Intrigued by Ferrari’s 250 California Spyder body design, John asked his friend, Cavendish Morton, to create a similar look for this second chassis. Once the drawings were complete, John continued to build the chassis to accommodate the new, all aluminum, body design.
Unfortunately, Tojeiro never got to complete TCAL59. It was then mid-1959, and by that time he had become immersed in building his new, radical, mid-engine, Tojeiro which was to be raced by Stirling Moss. So TCAL59 got pushed aside at the works, and nearly forgotten.
The complete TCAL59 chassis, with wire frame and suspension components, sat in the back of Tojeiro’s shop until it was acquired by Gilbert Dickson, who at that time managed the Tojeiro Registry. Dickson planned on completing the project, but work and other projects prevented it.
The next owner, John Muller, an American automotive archaeologist, acquired the car quite by accident. While visiting Dickson in England to do research on a Tojeiro Climax, he saw Dickson’s Tojeiro. He purchased it directly from Dickson. The car was crated and sent across the Atlantic to America.
Restoration was then completed in the U.S., including the all aluminum California Spyder style body. The car incorporated all the original components still preserved on the original chassis.
In 1959, John Tojeiro intended TCAL59 to be fitted with an American engine. This was to experiment with something new and different from his usual Jaguar powered Tojeiros. In keeping with Tojeiro’s original plan, the car was fitted with a vintage GMC straight 6-cylinder engine, bored to 302 cubic inches. The engine was dyno tested at 300+ horsepower, and 325 pound-feet of torque, with 300 pound-feet available from 2,400 rpm to 5,400 rpm. The engine is fitted with a 272HDP Crower cam shaft, three 2-barrel 45 DCOE Weber carburetors, on a Clifford intake manifold, and a Mallory distributor. The engine is mated to a Muncie 491 “rock crusher” four speed transmission that connects to a limited slip De Dion Jaguar rear axle (built to handle 450+ hp) with Watts linkage.
In 2018, the Tojeiro began its vintage racing career at the at the Circuit of Americas F1 track in Austin, Texas. In its first time out, with current WEC GULF driver Ben Barker at the wheel, the Tojeiro set the second quickest lap time in a field of over 40 cars at the SVRA National Championship race.
The Tojeiro is currently in excellent condition, and ready to go. It can be used in historic racing, and/or historic rallies.
Determining values for these late 1950’s Tojeiros is a somewhat of a challenge. Few cars were built, and they rarely change hands, similar to what we see with Lister Jaguars. Below are some recent sales figures for comparable, 1958-59 front engine Tojeiros with 3.0 or larger engines:
- 1959 Tojeiro-Jaguar
Sold in December, 2013 for £ 382,300 (US $497,121 at the time) including auction premium
- 1958 Tojeiro-Jaguar
Chassis Number: TAD158/N2
Engine: Jaguar 3781 c.c.
Year of Manufacture: 1958
Sold in 2012 for (£): 286,000 (US $374,500)
- 1958 Tojeiro-Jaguar Sports Racer
March 13, 2010
AUCTION RESULTS: Lot 200 – Not Sold at a high bid of $600,000
- 1958 Scarab Mk.2 Recreation Car
Currently for sale.
The Scarab recreation is nicely built, but is all new, not an original chassis built in period by the original manufacturer, as the Tojeiro is. At $565,000.00 the price is close to double the price for the genuine Tojeiro.
The Tojeiro has been priced below the low end of the above prices to realistically reflect its lack of period racing history. It is an authentic, 1959 Tojeiro, built in 1959, with the body designed, but not completed at that time. The car’s pedigree is also genuine, backed by John Tojeiro’s son, and the records of ownership by the Tojeiro registry founder, Gilbert Dickson and subsequent owners.
The Tojeiro California Spyder is a high quality, very fast, user friendly, and affordable to maintain, historic racing car. Its rarity, and brand significance, make it an entry ticket into some of the finest historic racing events. It’s unique, hand crafted, aluminum body, also makes this car a standout, and crowd-pleaser, both in the paddock and on the track.